Dozens of countries hit by huge cyberextortion attack

The Russian Interior Ministry has confirmed it was hit by the "ransomware" attack, which encrypts data on infected computers and demands payment, usually via the digital currency bitcoin, to release it. Britain's health service was also hit hard Friday as the attack froze computers at hospitals across the country, shutting down wards, closing emergency rooms and bringing medical treatments to a screeching halt. Other services soon went down, and then, the unidentified NHS worker says, "A bitcoin virus pop-up message had been introduced on to the network asking users to pay $300 to be able to access their PCs".

By midafternoon, officials with NHS Digital, which oversees cybersecurity for the national health system, told the New York Times that at least 25 hospitals had been hit by the attack.

"At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed", NHS Digital, a division of NHS England, said in a statement.

A large cyberattack crippled computer systems at hospitals across Britain on Friday, with appointments canceled, phone lines down and patients turned away.

India was among the three countries worst affected by the attack, data shared by Kaspersky showed.

The NHS has stated that it does not believe that the ransomware attack was specifically targeted at the NHS. "Now ransomware is affecting larger companies with more sophisticated security operations", Chris Wysopal, chief technology officer with cyber security firm Veracode, said.

A worldwide ransomware campaign using a stolen NSA hacking tool is now underway, consisting of more than 45,000 attacks in 74 countries, including the crippling of Britain's main healthcare system, Spain's Telefonica and Russia's MegaFon, according to global media reports and Kaspersky Lab.

No patient data was believed to have been accessed during the attack, and Britain's National Cyber Security Centre and National Crime Agency have said that they are now investigating the issue.

Creighton Magid, a partner at the global law firm Dorsey & Whitney based in New York City, said the NHS breach represents a new kind of attack that focuses on shutting down businesses and hospitals. A spokesperson for the Trust said, whilst they had detected the malware, it had "not had a significant impact on our organisation".




Incidents around the world appear to be linked may not be a coordinated attack on specific targets.

The committee, the nation's top investigative agency, has rejected the claim.

Telecommunications giant Telefonica was among many targets in Spain, though it said the attack was limited to some computers on an internal network and had not affected clients or services. It said the attacks were carried out with a version of WannaCry ransomware that encrypted files and prompted a demand for money transfers to free up the system.

At least 16 organizations connected to the National Health Service in England and an unknown number in Scotland reported being affected.

Barts Health NHS Trust in London said on its website it was "experiencing a major IT disruption and there are delays at all of our hospitals".

In a tweet, Europol Director Rob Wainwright said the cyberattack on British health care institutions "follows trend from USA of ransomware attacks on health care trusts".

Also, the hack happened four weeks before a British general election in which national security and the management of the state-run National Health Service (NHS) are important issues. "There have been no inside information leaks from the Russian Interior Ministry's information resources".

North Derbyshire CCG said it was taking action, but GP surgeries in the area told the BBC they had not been affected. He said companies can apply the patch released in March to all systems to prevent WannaCry infections. The cyberattack, he said, could cause a major backlog in referrals.

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